Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Sundarakanda - Interpretation

Hello Friends,

Favorite God for kids in India
I was always fascinated by the mythical hero "Hanuman" from my childhood. All the stories about his wisdom,strength,power and dedication to Rama left me spellbound. In fact my name being synonymous with Him made me feel special :)

I remember the countless times I heard Sundara Kanda through M S Rama Rao's immortal voice and it remains to date one of my favorites. I would like to attempt interpreting Sundara Kanda the only chapter where the hero of the epic takes a backseat and Hanuman takes center-stage.


Self Realization strikes Hanuman
Sundara Kanda talks about the journey of Hanuman who sets out to find Sita who is captured by Ravana. Hanuman who does not know his strength; is goaded into action by Jambavan. Once he knows his true worth, sets off on a mission to reach Lanka by crossing the Indian Ocean. En route, faces several obstacles- Surasa who tries to swallow him and Hanuman becomes tiny and gets in and out of Surasa's mouth. He encounters others like Simhika and Lankini and effectively manages to kill/defeat.

In Lanka, he sees tremendous wealth, material marvels like Pushpaka Vimanam among others but does not let his mind wander from his goal of finding Sita. He mistakenly assumes Mandodari who is Ravana's wife to be Sita and celebrates prematurely. Then realizes that it cannot be Sita by discerning that Sita cannot live with Ravana.
Sita meets someone who she can trust

He prays to Rama for guidance and finally locates Sita in Ashokavanam. He is shaken by the plight of Sita and chooses to recite Rama's story as a way to win Sita's trust. He then exchanges the ring of Rama with Sita's Chudamani and assures Sita that Rama will arrive at the earliest to lead the destruction of Lanka and Ravana.

He proceeds to challenge the Rakshasas in Lanka to estimate their strength and leads to the proverb of "Chusi Ramante Kalchi Vachadu" (Burnt down Lanka when He was only asked to locate Sita). Finally, He reaches Rama and provides Him the joy and happiness so much so that the Lord Himself feels He has nothing to offer to Hanuman!


Sundara Kanda means a Beautiful Chapter and that is the first in line of many symbolic inner meanings. The chapter starts and ends with "Tat" which in Sanskrit could mean a river bank. It could be interpreted as Birth and Death for all of us.

The search for Sita is actually the search for Godliness within us. It is not an easy exercise and we will face a lot of challenges in getting there.

Sundara Kanda - In Pictures
The first one would be not knowing the true Self and assumption that we are worthless. Even after knowing the Inner Self, we tend to get distracted by the material desires that tempt us in all possible ways. Hanuman shows us the way in not getting distracted while on his search. The parallel of Surasa can be drawn to the fact that we need to be humble and well grounded. Hanuman also teaches us the importance of time as he refuses to accept an offer from Mynaka mountain to rest before he embarked the journey to Lanka.

Once we find Sita (God who resides in each of us), our duty becomes even more critical as we then need to clear ourselves of the influences of Ravana (every day evils we get caught up with).

So, in the spirit of Sundara Kanda, we will need to embark on the journey of life, realize the true purpose of it, keep ourselves out of evil influences that consume us all too easily and stay steadfast on to the true goal of merging with the Paramatma.

This is just an attempt to interpret a very complex chapter that can be full of deeper meanings and perhaps in the coming years, I might discover a few more with the help of all of you!

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